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Ballyvadin Demonstration Farm

Building a sustainable outlet for the ever-increasing dairy and dairy-beef calves coming from the dairy industry is a priority. There is a requirement to develop profitable dairy calf-to-beef systems using excellent dairy-beef genetics and grassland management. The dairy calf-to- beef demonstration farm is based at Ballyvadin, Fethard, Co. Tipperary. It is a joint venture between Teagasc, Dawn Meats and Shinagh Estates Ltd. The Ballyvadin farm will demonstrate the deployment of best technologies in sustainable beef production. Additionally it will produce beef of high quality from both the processor and consumers perspective.

The Farm 

Ballyvadin farm is 112 ha of free draining clay loams and will be sown with perennial ryegrass/ clover swards receiving ~ 125 kg N/ha. The farm will be stocked initially with 300 calves that will be reared through to beef as steers and heifers. The number of animals slaughtered will be adjusted taking cognisance of forage supply and feed demand, age at slaughter with adequate fat cover. The target will be to maximise production from grazed grass and high quality silage with animals being slaughtered from 20 to 26 months depending on gender and beef genetics.

The Enterprise

Ballyvadin farm will procure approximately 300 spring born calves each year from a small number of farms at between 2 to 4 weeks of age. These calves will be a minimum of four stars on the commercial beef value (CBV) index and will include both steers and heifers. All animals will be slaughtered when they reach a minimum carcass fatness of 3-. Ballyvadin farm will be leased from the land owner by Teagasc for a 15 year period.

Dawn Meats Ltd, Shinagh Estates Ltd and Teagasc will enter into a share-farming agreement. This agreement will define the supply of land, stock, labour and all other inputs required for the successful operation of Ballyvadin dairy calf-to-beef farm. Separately there will be service management agreement between Ballyvadin Farm Ltd and Teagasc regarding the operations of the Ballyvadin demo dairy calf-to-beef farm.

Key Demonstration Actions

  • Demonstrate the significant advantage of strong colllaboration between beef and dairy farmers in the transfer of calves between both parties
  • Operate a financially sustainable farm business using excellent pasture management, early age at slaughter and high animal health and welfare
  • Minimise both nitrogen and phosphorus losses to the environment
  • Implement mitigation strategies that reduce the impact of dairy calf-to beef farming on  climate change
  • Incorporate a proportion of the farm into high diversity landscape features
  • Implement mitigation strategies to reduce ammonia emissions to the environment
  • Reduce the use of antibiotics and anthelmintics

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